February 11, 2009

Singing the summer job blues!

According to the latest unemployment figures released by Statistics Canada, it is not looking good for students trying to find a job for summer.

The latest figures show that unemployment among youths aged 15 to 24 sits at 12.7%, down 0.2% from the number in December, but up 1.7% from the figure in January of 2008.

Usually, I don't pay attention to these numbers as I know first hand how difficult it can be for students to find a job. But given the current economic crisis in Canada and across the globe, I'm worried that these numbers will get worse as the summer approaches.

After all, temporary or newly-hired workers are often the first to go during economic turmoil. And the current crisis shows no sign of slowing down so it looks as though this summer will be a challenge for many.

And this spells problems for many students and youth. For one thing, it has always been difficult to find a summer job as the competition is intense. And many students and youth rely on the wages they earn to support themselves during the school year - and given the current state of the economy, I suspect that quite a few students will be working to contribute to the family income.

As reports in various newspapers show, including the
Toronto Star to the South Coast Today, this summer will definitely be a difficult one.

With that being said, do not despair completely ... there still is hope. After all, it's only February and now is the ideal time to start looking.

As I've always said, many businesses and non-profit organizations use the month of January to judge how well the previous year was. Once they know what to expect for this year, they'll decide whether or not to hire students over the summer.

Of course, I realize how simplistic this is, but it's true. Back when I worked for Service Canada, I remember receiving only 2 applications for funding in all of January. However, once February rolled around, my e-mail inbox and our office's drop box was full of applications.

Plus, colleges, universities, and high schools often schedule their summer job fairs in late February and into early March. And if you're lucky, local politicians might also host another job fair, too.

And so, there still are chances out there. Just because there's talk of how difficult it is now doesn't mean that things will hold true in 5 months. Things could change - whether or not they will is a different story.

So, if you're going to start looking now, remember that a positive attitude about your job prospects will radiate through your resume, cover letter, and if applicable, your interview.

And don't just wait around for someone to walk by and offer you a job. Be proactive in your search. Strap on a pair of comfy shoes and pound the pavement - and the job boards. And don't forget to tap into your network. Ask your family, friends, teachers, coaches, neighbours, or anyone else you know that might have a job lead.

Of course, for those that don't necessarily need the money, remember all of the volunteer/internship opportunities available. While they are often unpaid, they do allow you to gain valuable work experience.

And let's face it, with businesses reeling, I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to bring you on board just to have someone work for free - think of it as your own way of taking advantage of the economic crisis - sure, you work for free, but you might gain invaluable job experience that you otherwise wouldn't have gotten.

Now, for those of you still concerned about finding a summer job, this announcement is for you.

Next week, I'm starting a new blog series, "Summer Job Spotlight". In this series of postings, I'll be listing available summer positions and summer job programmes that students and youth can participate in. And I'll also list student-friendly businesses and organizations that are looking for staff.

The one caveat is that since I'm from Toronto, my first few posts will focus on the programmes administered in Toronto and throughout Ontario, along with the federal programmes that have rolled out across Canada.

But don't worry - I'm currently doing extensive research on the programmes and positions offered in other provinces, as well as resources that can help you even more.

So please stay tuned and come back frequently as I hope to update this series on a regular basis!


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